When I was a child, there were days when I would have to stay inside, holed up in the house with all the windows and double doors closed against the cold. On particularly nasty days, the temperature would fall to incredible lows of minus 40 degrees Celsius. The wind chill could make it even colder and warnings were issued that skin exposed to such temperatures would be frost bitten in mere minutes. Outside the wind howled its warning against entering its grip.
At times like this, when the door was opened by someone going out or coming in, the chorus rang throughout the house, “Close the door!!” and we all hunched our shoulders and tucked our feet in against the draft.
At night lying in my bed waiting for sleep to come, my eyes would follow the patterns on the frost-covered windows, lit up by the street lights below.The patterns were artful, sweeping, wing-shaped and glistening like crystal and diamonds. Sometimes I’d get up and touch them or lick the window and feel the icy chill on my tongue. My fingers melted the frost in patterns or words. Scraping with fingernails and a snowstorm was created, a miniature of the one raging outside.
Today again I am holed up in the house with all the windows and doors closed. And, were someone to open a door, I would definitely be hollering at them to “Close the door!” against the weather.
There is a difference between this day the days of my childhood I just described…today I am inside hiding from the insufferable heat, generator running, air conditioning on full blast.
The thermometer in my office read 95 deg F (35 deg C) with 78% humidity. At 1:30pm I decided it was time I get a couple of potted palms into the holes that were prepared for them several days ago, on the west side of the house. After an hour of careful work, taking breaks and drinking cold water, I’d just about had enough. The job was finished – the plants were in their holes and watered, a mess remained to be cleaned up – but I knew I needed to get out of the heat. In the bathroom getting ready to take a shower to cool off, I got a clear illustration of what “beet red” really means. My face was literally the color of beets. “Not good” I thought. Better hurry up and get in the shower. While in the shower, the need to throw up became very overpowering.
After this turn of events, it occurred to me that it would be a good day to run the air conditioning. But sadly, the generator, which in this solar home is required if you want to use the AC, has not been working. The neighbor, a knowledgeable mechanic, was supposed to come early in the day to look at it, but didn’t show up. Basta!
So instead, I lay down under the fan and tried to get my core temperature down. Another shower and then I rested fitfully under the fan.
Finally, the mechanic Victor arrived, and after less than 5 minutes had figured out the problem. In 10 minutes flat he had it repaired. The propane gas line was clogged. As he left he said “you need to run the generator for a while to clear the lines.” Well you don’t have to tell me twice.
And so I moved quickly, closing all the doors and windows, taking the covers off the air condensers and then turning on the AC units in the two downstairs bedrooms.
Here I sit writing away in 84 deg F (29 deg C) temperatures and 50% humidity. I’m wearing very little and the fan is blowing cool air at me. Heaven!
Oh wait, I think I might be getting a chill…